Experimental music is what forwards the music world into new genres and new avenues of sound. Bands that are willing to take a weird step here or a wrong turn there are the ones that force music to change and become something it wasn’t in the past. Creativity is lacking in popular music, this is simply my opinion but turn on any pop station and you can hear the same few notes, chords, beats, and rhythms in almost any song. That’s why I cherish bands like Battles that make things weird, experimental, and different. Battles’ album “Gloss Drop” is a trip down a whimsical and unique road that is filled with music that you really can’t find within other albums.
Whimsy, that’s the word I’d use to describe this album in its entirety. Whether it’s a dark and heavy whimsy that is powerful to listen to or a cute and childlike whimsy that is enjoyable and light, all of “Gloss Drop” is just whimsical. All of the songs have a way of sounding like their titles which is either because the title predisposes you to a notion of the sound or the sound gives notions of the title. Either way it’s a very cool effect that works well in songs like “Inchworm” “Wall Street”.
Most of Battles’ songs are just jams that the band flips into a song by adding a different piece here and there. The band has come out in the past and said that they have a “leapfrog” style where they add one element on top of the other and so on. However, songs like “Futura” don’t only have this effect but also are capable producing a great entrance effect, where each member bursts into the song and adds a totally different flavor upon entering. Hearing the bass jump in or the pianos start blaring is a really cool effect that goes very far for the album.
But let’s get back to the experimenting for a moment. Battles’ has been interviewed about the song “My Machines” which Gary Numan did the vocals for. When they met Numan to talk about the track even he said “it’s really fucking weird.” I think when you can have that effect on superstars like Numan, and when they mean it in a positive way, you’re doing something right.
A lot of people tend to stay away from experimental bands because they’re “too weird”. Well I think “Gloss Drop” is a good entryway into experimental music for any of you out there. It’s got a really clean sound to it all and while certain songs are definitely off the beaten path it’s all in a really cool and interesting way.
“Ice Cream” has quite possibly the best opener of a song I’ve ever heard as it builds and builds only to culminate in a tune that is likely to be stuck in the recesses of your mind all day.
Other songs that stand out for me are “Wall Street”, “White Electric”, and “Dominican Fade”. Before I go into these songs I just have to say that people who say the songs with vocals are the ones that standout are really missing out on the better songs of the album. Yes we, as a culture, are acclimated to songs with words but instrumental music is just as awesome.
Now, “Wall Street” is a prime example of my earlier statement about the music matching the title. Listening to the bustling and busy tunes puts you in the financial hub and lets your imagination run wild with images of suited men running here and there. It’s a fun little tune that really has a feel all its own, which is unique in today’s pop-music world.
“White Electric” sounds like quintessential Battles where the music builds up in a style similar to Explosions in the Sky until it all explodes into a jam session that is actually fun to listen to. That’s the difference between Battles and regular bands, these jam sessions are actually fun to listen to and don’t make you wish it would end 30 seconds in.
“Dominican Fade” is just fun, the drums are absolutely insane and the reggae style beat really helps to capture the Caribbean feel of the song. It’s a fun dance tune that has some really great collaborations between the piano and the percussions, which include an iron skillet.
“Gloss Drop” is a really fun album that allows listeners to understand experimental music for what it really is. It’s a genre of music filled with people who aren’t afraid to be creative and are willing to be wrong once in a while. Without people like Battles the music industry could be a very stale and stagnant place that lacks the creativity humans thrive on. Give “Gloss Drop” a listen, at the very least you’ll be entertained but hopefully it’ll do more than entertain you and instead it will inspire you and allow you to dive deeper into experimental music.
Standout track-“Ice Cream”- best opening to a song and such a ridiculous hook.
Listen to it if- You want to let your sledgehammer fly at Big Brother’s screen.
Don’t listen to it if- 1984 made you say “ok cool”
Overall opinion- Definite listen for anyone wanting something a little weird, a little different, and a lot of fun.